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A comparison of the effectiveness of respondent-driven and venue-based sampling for identifying undiagnosed HIV infection among cisgender men who have sex with men and transgender women in Tijuana, Mexico.

  • Author(s): Pines, Heather A;
  • Semple, Shirley J;
  • Magis-Rodríguez, Carlos;
  • Harvey-Vera, Alicia;
  • Strathdee, Steffanie A;
  • Patrick, Rudy;
  • Rangel, Gudelia;
  • Patterson, Thomas L
  • et al.
Abstract

Background

Efforts to increase HIV testing, diagnosis and care are critical to curbing HIV epidemics among cisgender men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TW) in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). We compared the effectiveness of respondent-driven sampling (RDS) and venue-based sampling (VBS) for identifying previously undiagnosed HIV infection among MSM and TW in Tijuana, Mexico.

Methods

Between March 2015 and December 2018, we conducted RDS within the social networks of MSM and TW and VBS at venues frequented by MSM and TW to socialize and meet sexual partners. Those reached by RDS/VBS who reported at least 18 years of age, anal sex with MSM or TW, and no previous HIV diagnosis were eligible for HIV testing.

Results

Of those screened following recruitment via RDS (N = 1232; 98.6% MSM; 1.3% TW), 60.8% (749/1232) were eligible for HIV testing and 97.5% (730/749) were tested for HIV infection, which led to the identification of 36 newly diagnosed HIV infections (4.9%). Of those screened following recruitment via VBS (N = 2560; 95.2% MSM; 4.6% TW), 56.5% (1446/2560) were eligible for HIV testing and 92.8% (1342/1446) were tested for HIV infection, which led to the identification of 82 newly diagnosed HIV infections (6.1%). The proportion of new HIV diagnoses did not differ by recruitment method (ratio = 0.81, 95% confidence interval: 0.55 to 1.18). Compared to those recruited via RDS, those tested following recruitment via VBS were younger, more likely to identify as gay, and more likely to identify as TW. Compared to those recruited via VBS, those newly diagnosed with HIV infection following recruitment via RDS reported higher levels of internalized stigma and were more likely to report injection drug use and a history of deportation from the United States.

Conclusions

Despite RDS and VBS being equally effective for identifying undiagnosed HIV infection, each recruitment method reached different subgroups of MSM and TW in Tijuana. Our findings suggest that there may be benefits to using both RDS and VBS to increase the identification of previously undiagnosed HIV infection and ultimately support HIV care engagement among MSM and TW in Mexico and other similar LMIC.

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